Graduate Research Fellows

PhD Candidate   Kinesiology and Health Science, York University
Research Interests Indigenous health, chronic disease, and community-based health promotion.
PhD Candidate   Political Science, York University
Research Interests Aytak Akbari-Dibavar is a PhD student at the department of Political Science at York University majoring in International Relations and Women and Politics. As a 2016 Trudeau Scholar and SSHRC Doctoral Fellow Aytak’s research investigates the trans-generational transmission of political trauma in authoritarian states where public debate and discussion are impossible. Her hypothesis is that survivors of state violence transmit their trauma to their children through private, familial mechanisms that cohere to produce a collective political identity in the subsequent generation that can be traced in that generation’s organizing and activism.
PhD Candidate, CRS Writing Fellow   Socio-Legal Studies, York University
Research Interests Melissa Anderson is a PhD student in Socio-Legal Studies at York University. Her research interests span legal geography, illegalized migration, sanctuary cities, urban politics, transnational human rights, and intergovernmental jurisdiction. Her dissertation research titled ‘Legislating Sanctuary: Imagined and Materialized Healthcare for Non-Status Migrants in Canada-Spain-Germany’, explores the ways in which contradictions in legal jurisdiction threaten the application of human rights to non-status migrants. Melissa is a past recipient of SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Graduate Scholarship (2015-2016), and a current recipient of the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (2017-2018; 2018-2019).
PhD Candidate   Osgoode Hall Law School, York University  
Research Interests Ghuna Bdiwi is a Syrian human rights lawyer and a PhD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School – York University. Her research interests are in the many facets including: international law, international human rights, international criminal law, R2P, transitional justice, refugee and migration, and legal theory, with an intensive concentration on the current situation in Syria and the Middle East. Ghuna received many awards during her professional and academic journey, such as the 2016 John Peters Humphrey Fellowship in International Human Rights form the Canadian Council on International Law (CCIL), and the 2015 Graduate Fellowship form the Nathanson Center on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security – York University.  In addition to her academic achievements, Ghuna has been acknowledged for her advocacy work in defending human rights in Syria. In 2015 Ghuna has received the International Human Rights award from the International Center for Human Rights in Canada.
PhD Candidate   Geography, York University  
Research Interests Linn Biorklund Belliveau is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at York University. Her research interests include human displacement, humanitarianism, and feminist geopolitics. The purpose of Linn’s doctoral research stem from years of working with displaced communities and non-governmental organisations, including Médecins Sans Frontières, in many parts of the world. Using ethnographic, participatory and art-based methods she engages feminist epistemologies, and transnational relations, to question reductionist representations of people who manoeuvre cross border lives and related spaces. Her dissertation, which is funded by SSHRC and the Graduate Fellowship for Academic Distinction, is currently titled: Geographies of Violence and Contestation across Borders: Everyday Politics of Migrant Women at the Mexico-Guatemala U.S. Proxy Border. She also conducts research on alternative protection mechanisms, in view of restrictive immigration policies and wellbeing.
PhD Candidate   Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
Research Interests Emerging technologies in migration management, information practices in forced migration, community informatics, public health and service utilization
PhD Candidate   Faculty of Education, York University
Research Interests Mohamed Duale is a PhD student in the Graduate Program in Education – Language, Culture and Teaching at the Faculty of Education, York University. His doctoral research focuses on Somali refugee youth in the Dadaab Refugee Camps of northeastern Kenya. Mohamed is also affiliated with the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project and is a mentor to refugee teachers in Dadaab. He has a Master’s and Bachelor’s of Political Science from York University and a Bachelor of Education from OISE, University of Toronto.  His Master’s Thesis, “A Critical Analysis of the U.N. Peacekeeping Missions to Somalia, 1992-95,” explored the politics of humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping in the post-Cold War era.
PhD Candidate   Anthropology, McGill University
Research Interests Giulia El Dardiry is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. Her research interests include the anthropology of the Middle East, Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf; refugees and migration; political economy; citizenship and belonging; health and healthcare policy; and psychological anthropology. Her doctoral thesis explores the dynamics of Iraqi and Syrian displacement into Jordan, with specific attention to how home and belonging were being reconfigured and reimagined among refugee and host communities alike. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked in health research and international development in various countries, including Greece, Lebanon and Jordan. Giulia hold a MHSc in Health Promotion from the University of Toronto and a BA in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies from McGill University.
PhD Candidate, CRS Writing Fellow   Politics, York University
Research Interests Azin Emami is a PhD student at York University in the Department of Politics. Her research focuses on environmental displacement and migration. More specifically, she is interested in understanding the ways in which the livelihoods of subsistence workers have been impacted by climate change patterns, the link between climate change and human trafficking and the implications of non-recognition for environmentally displaced people.
PhD Candidate   Political Science, McGill University
Research Interests Merve Erdilmen is a Ph.D student in Political Science with Gender Studies Specialization at McGill University. Merve holds an MA in Political Science from McGill University and studied philosophy and sociology at the Middle East Technical University and Sciences Po Paris for her undergraduate studies. She holds Mitacs Globalink Graduate Fellowship for 2016-2017. Her research interests include humanitarianism, refugee governance, gender-based asylum, urban refugees, and the role of state-non-state actors in refugee management in the Middle East. Her current project aims to understand the ways in which varying norms and readings of humanitarianism affect humanitarian operations and the state-non-state relations in the management of urban refugees in Turkey.
PhD Candidate   Political Science, McMaster University
  Research Interests Irregular migration, border policy and security regimes
MPhil Candidate   Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
  Research Interests Refugees and refugee policy, Canadian politics and society, Political Science
PhD Candidate   Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba
Research Interests Michelle Lam’s research interests focus on settlement and integration in rural areas, the role of language, and educating mainstream populations about newcomer experiences and diversity. Her current work examines the role of host societies and educational institutions in integration and retention in third-tier cities.
PhD Candidate   Political Science, Carleton University
Research Interests Rachel’s current SSHRC-funded thesis research examines the politics of refugee resettlement in Canada and the development of Canada’s different resettlement programs. Her previous Honours research through Acadia University investigated community refugee sponsorship through the Blended Visa Office-Referred program in rural Nova Scotia. Rachel is also the main organizer of Carleton’s Migration and Diaspora Student Research Conference and a member of the Migration in Remote and Rural Areas network.
PhD Candidate   Education, Social & Political Thought, York University
Research Interests Refugee subjectivity and identification; Refugee health and development; Refugee youth/adolescents 
PhD Candidate   UC Davis Sociology Department
Research Interests

Cetin Ozdemir is a Ph.D. student at UC Davis Sociology Department. He received his BA degree from Sociology Department at Marmara University in 2011 and completed his MA degree in International Relations at the same university in 2016.

His research interests encompass internal/international migration, comparative/historical sociology, International Relations theories, sociology of international relations, classical social theories, and research methods. He is specifically interested in Turkey but also works on refugees in California.

PhD Candidate    Department of Sociology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY
Research Interests

Aysegul Balta Ozgen  is a Ph.D. candidate and instructor in the Department of Sociology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. Her overall research program focuses on the intersection of international migration, integration, and policymaking. Her dissertation is currently titled: The Impact of Immigration Policies on Syrian Refugees’ Integration Experiences: A Comparative Analysis of Canada, Germany, Turkey, and the United States.


Balta, Aysegul. 2014. “The Role of NGOs in the Europeanization of the Asylum System in Turkey.” Pp. 165-224 in Migration, Asylum, and Refugees in Turkey: Studies in Control of Population at the Southeastern Borders of the EU, edited by N. O. Baklacioglu and Y. Ozer. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press.

PhD Candidate   Geography, McGill University
Research Interests Nicolas is a cultural geographer pursuing his PhD at the Department of Geography, McGill University. His research interests centre around the cultural dimension of forced displacement, the politics of migration within social fields, and the various forms of dispossession resulting from armed conflict. His current project uses ethnographic approaches to connect with and understand the spatial and temporal interlinkages between memories of displacement, present day placemaking, and sense of futurity of Congolese refugees in Rwanda. Outside his doctoral project, Nicolas investigates everyday practices of mutual aid amongst refugees, drawing on extensive fieldwork in Turkey, Peru, Canada, and beyond.
PhD Candidate   Geography, York University
Research Interests Feminist geopolitics, Queer theory, Gender, Sexuality, Violence, Militarization
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PhD Candidate   Education, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Research Interests Mariam Rashid is a Ph.D. student whose research explores how colonial, gendered, and racialized factors and conditions affect resettlement, integration, and inclusion of African refugee women in East Africa and other countries of resettlement such as the United States. She employs critical qualitative research with decolonial and diffractive methodologies in her work. Currently, her work examines African refugee women’s voices and perspectives during the processes of resettlement in the United States.
PhD Candidate   Global Health, McMaster University
Research Interests Zoha Salam is a social epidemiologist and a Ph.D. student in the Global Health program at McMaster University. Her research interests lie in understanding how mental health disparities among migrant populations are produced through social and structural determinants of health. She focuses on this from a cross-cultural perspective, as she believes culture is an important factor in understanding conceptualizations of mental health and wellbeing.
PhD Candidate   Geography, York University
Research Interests

Hiba Sha’ath is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at York University.

Her doctoral research project will examine the experiences and informal self-protection mechanisms of precarious-status urban populations in Tunis. Other research interests include the role of data in shaping humanitarian responses in conflict and post-conflict situations, and critical approaches to migration governance in the Mediterranean.

Hiba has experience in coordinating multi-country research projects, overseeing large-scale field data collection activities with mobile populations, quantitative data analysis, and reporting. She has worked with International Organization for Migration’s Libya office based in Tunisia and with the organization’s regional office for West and Central Africa based in Senegal. She also has prior work experience with the UNESCO Libya and UNESCO Iraq country offices.

Hiba holds an MSc. in Migration, Mobility and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London, and a BCom. from the University of Toronto.

PhD Candidate   Economic Geography, University of Zurich
Research Interests Isabella Stingl is a PhD student in the Department of Geography at University of Zurich. Her research interests span the geographies of labour, migration, and citizenship, migration and refugee studies, time and temporalities, and feminist theories and methodologies. Her PhD project engages with the work-related experiences of refugees in Switzerland and aims to understand how migrants’ labour market trajectories are shaped by current labour, welfare, and immigration regulations.
PhD Candidate   Sociology, York University
Research Interests Dina Taha is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at York University. Her research interests include Critical Forced Migration and Refugee discourses, Postcolonial Feminism, Gender in the Middle East, Victimhood and victimization, Refugee agency and survival strategies. Her dissertation explores Female Syrian Refugees survival mechanisms in Egypt.
PhD Candidate   Osgoode Hall Law School
Research Interests Refugee law, immigration law, administrative law
PhD Candidate   Geography, York University
Research Interests Biftu Yousuf is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at York University. She received her BA in Criminology and holds a double Master’s in Criminology and Health from Simon Fraser University. Her dissertation explores how racialized sponsors – with refugee histories – negotiate power relations to self-authorize the security and protection of refugee compatriots. This SSHRC-funded project probes Canada’s private sponsorship of refugees program and is currently entitled ‘Invisibilized Providers: The Role of Racialized Diasporas in Refugee Protection and Resettlement’. Her other research interests include feminist geopolitics; critical geographies of race and migration; African diaspora studies; feminist methodologies and NVivo.
WANG, KUAN-YUN (Cynthia)
PhD Candidate   Communication and Cultural Studies, York University
Research Interests Kuan-Yun Wang (Cynthia) is a PhD student in the Communication and Cultural Studies program at York University. Prior to her academic life, she has worked five years professionally in the media industry in different countries around the world. Her research interests includes representation in the mass media, visual culture, gender studies and identity construction. Her specific research focus is on the Palestinian refugees and the representation of Arab/Muslim women in the context of settler-colonial and Necropower. She is currently working on her book about Palestine that is scheduled to publish in the summer of 2021.
PhD Candidate   Geography, York University
Research Interests Yolanda Weima is a doctoral student in the Department of Geography at York University. Her research interests include repatriation (to Burundi) and naturalization (in Tanzania) of former Burundian refugees; refugee and returnee transnationalisms; critical geographies of uneven development; social reproduction; geographies of peace and conflict; subaltern, post-colonial, and feminist geopolitics. Her dissertation is currently titled: From camps to villages and war to peace?: Former Burundian refugees experiences of (re)gaining citizenship in Burundi and Tanzania (Funded: SSHRC Scholarship to Honour Nelson Mandela)